Or rather, ‘Argentines in Spain and Portugal,’ with a few quick additions, since there wasn’t a lot to write home about elsewhere aside from Carlos Tevez’s goal in the FA Cup. Ben Shave and David Cartlidge, though, are here to keep us up to date with the weekend’s happenings. In the wake of his FIFA World Player Of The Year coronation, I’m also adding a video of Lionel Messi’s hat trick in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday night. Enjoy.
Tevez popped up with an important goal for Manchester City in their chaotic 2-2 draw away to Leicester City. Tevez’s goal on the stroke of half time put Roberto Mancini’s men 2-1 up but they were pegged back in the second half and the tie will go to a replay at Eastlands. Luciano Becchio featured for Leeds United, who got a 1-1 draw away to Arsenal, whilst Fabricio Coloccini played the whole ninety minutes with only a yellow card to show for it as Newcastle United were dumped out of the Cup in a shock 3-1 defeat away to Stevenage.
In Serie A, there were goals for Hernán Crespo (a penalty in Parma’s 4-1 away win over Juventus) and Maxi López for Catania in a 4-2 away defeat to Roma, both last Thursday, but the most decisive contribution was from Esteban Cambiasso on Sunday. After Internazionale fell 2-1 down away to Catania in the 71st minute, Cambiasso scored twice in the space of five minutes – in the 74th and 79th – to win the game for the champions 2-1.
Catania 1 – 2 Internazionale
Fernando Belluschi played his usual role for FC Porto in their routine 4-1 win over Marítimo. The former Newell’s and River man was fairly quiet, but in truth had little to do, such was the comfort of his side’s victory.
Benfica’s Argentines continued their fine run of form as the Eagles won 3-0 at União de Leiria. Javier Saviola opened the scoring after 27 minutes, crashing home from close range after Eduardo Salvio headed back across goal. The defending champions then proceeded to pepper the Leiria goal with attacks, but the second didn’t come until ten minutes from time, Nico Gaitán stabbing home after a goalmouth scramble. The summer signing from Boca then set up the third for former Newell’s hitman Óscar Cardozo seven minutes later, delivering a precise cross for the Paraguayan.
I should also mention Benfica’s capture of José Luis Fernández, the former Racing winger. He arrived in Lisbon this week, and whilst he made every attempt to duck the inevitable questions about Ángel Di María (‘I am not here to replace anybody’), the Portuguese press have been unable to resist themselves, reporting on his every move in the public training sessions, searching for similarities. Fernández is not expected to make his debut for a couple of weeks, as he arrived at the club short of match fitness.
Málaga have been busier than most sides this transfer window, and their big capture in defence was Martín Demichelis; on loan from Bayern München, Demichelis rose highest in the box to glance home a header on his debut for the team from the south of Spain. However, he was to give away a clumsy free-kick late in the game which resulted in Athletic Bilbao equalizing in a 1-1 draw.
Sevilla had Diego Perotti in their line-up this weekend, with the young midfielder getting news his dual nationality had come through to now make him hold a Spanish passport as well as Argentine documentation. The winger delivered two wonderful corners in his side’s 2-3 win over Real Sociedad, and was a constant threat throughout with his clever running and trickery.
Lionel Messi made his presence felt on his return to the Barcelona team following an extended break. He played a significant part in their 0-4 demolition of Deportivo La Coruña; firstly with a lovely slipped-in pass for an assist on the first goal, after a trademark dash in from the right wing. His next contribution was a stunning solo effort though, with a fantastic free-kick bending round the wall and into the net – so good, the keeper gave up with the ball sailing towards him. Messi wasn’t finished though, as he carried the ball forward once more to lay off for Pedro, who fired home brilliantly. Javier Mascherano also got a full 90 minutes for Barcelona, albeit a very quiet display – at least he got to play though.
Deportivo 0 – 4 Barcelona
Aldo Duscher got a 10 minute run-out for Espanyol on his return from injury in a 4-0 win over lowly Real Zaragoza. Zaragoza featured Leo Franco in goal, who was let-down all too often by his defence. Nicolás Bertolo came on with 10 minutes to go, purely to stretch his legs given the score line.
The main game of the weekend was Real Madrid vs Villarreal, and the team from the capital were 4-2 victors in an outstanding game of football played at an incredibly high technical level. Ángel Di María was his usual troublesome self, occupying a central position for much of the game behind Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid. His darting runs, and simple yet effective passing being the main facets of his game here. Fernando Gago made a rare appearance for Madrid too, getting in the final ten minutes as he continues to ease himself to full fitness.
Villarreal played their part on the contest though, and were the much better side in the first half. Marco Ruben was the man who gave Villarreal a 1-2 lead at one stage, the former Rosario Central and River Plate man finishing with an elegant dink over Iker Casillas. Matteo Mussachio came on in a tactical move by Villarreal, as they looked to stem the tide of white shirts swarming upon them – his role was to sit in front of the defence and protect, but he was outnumbered as the inevitable Madrid goals arrived.
Madrid 4 – 2 Villarreal
And that Messi hat trick on Wednesday (Lio scores Barcelona’s first three in a 5-0 Copa Del Rey win over Real Betis)
There won’t be any Argentines Abroad next week, because on Tuesday I’ll be flying back to Buenos Aires and HEGS coverage will be decidedly sporadic whilst I get over jetlag and re-introduce myself to my friends (and attempt to adjust to the heat of the Argentine summer), but we’ll be back in full effect in a fortnight.
You can follow the ins and outs during the summer break, as well Argentina’s performances in the Sudamericano Sub 20 in January, the country’s vast foreign legion and the latest news from the selección during the 2010-2011 season direct from Buenos Aires with HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here. You can also join the official HEGS Facebook group, to keep up to date with the latest posts on the blog and discuss things with other fans. You’ll find it here. Also remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our home to a brand new Argentine football podcast (or subscribe to it on iTunes here)